Emotions: Pensiveness, mental acuity, worry
Related organs: Spleen (yin)/Stomach (yang)
Season: Late Summer
Body tissue: Muscle
Climatic Qi: Damp
Sense organ: Mouth
Don’t think. If you do think, act.
Asking us to not think is practically an impossible thing to do; however, one of my teachers always says this to his students and his patients. Why? Thinking is not the culprit, worrying is. What is the difference between thinking and worrying? For some people who suffer from constant digestive issues, there is not much difference between thinking and worrying. The moment they start to think, they immediately begin ruminating every angle of the particular issue. They find themselves obsessing about the issue. The inability to “let go” of particular matters in our lives is not healthy. In Chinese medicine, the spleen energy is directly related to one’s ability to not worry excessively and to have total mental clarity.
For people whose jobs are to use mental energy often, such as teachers, lawyers, computer engineers, etc…anyone with a desk job for that matter, these professionals are more inclined to overuse their mental spleen energy. Therefore, these professionals are more inclined to deplete their physical spleen energy also. When we deplete our spleen energy, we may cause many types of digestive issues, one being irritable bowel syndrome. There are other factors that may influence the decline of spleen “Qi”, such as irregular eating habits, eating excessive amounts of cold or greasy foods or eating too close to bedtime.
Physically damaging our spleen energy eventually causes mental weakness of the spleen energy. This is an example of the Yin/Yang theory. The yin (mind) affects the yang (body). The yang affects the yin. As a practitioner, figuring out which came first, the chicken or the egg, does not matter. I deal with both during treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. This means that I treat the cause and the symptoms of each patient’s complaints. I advise my patients the danger of worrying and the danger of not making wise dietary decisions. Damaging the body will damage the mind. Damaging the mind will damage the body. Before we decide to obsess about a topic, we should ask ourselves if it is worth the wellbeing of our body. Before we decide to hurt ourselves by eating improperly, we should ask ourselves if it is worth the ability to think clearly.
I have treated countless numbers of patients with digestive issues. From 1999-2006 I focused on digestive and menstrual issues. Most of these patients were women. Typically, a woman suffering from digestive issues also suffered from menstrual issues of some kind, no matter if it was just a minor complaint.
The Spleen is related to the Blood in two ways. First of all it is the origin of Blood as it produces Food-Qi which is the basis for the formation of Blood.
Secondly, Spleen-Qi makes sure that Blood remains in the blood vessels and does not extravasate. If Spleen-Qi is deficient, Qi cannot hold Blood, and haemorrhages may result. Such haemorrhages are of the deficient type, because they are due to deficient Qi not holding Blood.
-THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHINESE MEDICINE by Giovanni Maciocia
This statement by Dr. Maciocia explains how spleen energy creates blood, how spleen energy keeps the blood in the blood vessels and how weakness of the spleen energy causes hemorrhages. Therefore, if we do not take care of our spleen energy by worrying too much or eating unhealthily, we can affect our ability to produce blood well, our ability to digest food well and our ability to prevent hemorrhages.
A person dealing with very weak spleen energy issues is who I used to be. Since my treatments began in 1994, my life changed. My destructive eating pattern caused me to ruin my spleen energy, which caused dampness. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs worked at transforming the dampness in my body and helped me to lose over 45 pounds. It has been great to enjoy three sizes lighter than what I used to wear. I snored profoundly due to the phlegm that my weak spleen energy used to produce (dampness in the lungs/nose is called “phlegm”). In fact, my college roommates used to record my snoring throughout the night. A weak spleen creates an increase in desires for eating sweet foods. When I would get hungry or craved sweets, I had to have food or sweets immediately or my liver energy would take over and I would become aggressively angry (a typical diagnosis that we call “liver attacking spleen” or “wood attacking earth”). My spleen energy was weak, so I did not produce much blood; therefore, my periods would only last 1 day (a healthy menses should last 3-5 days, all red blood, no clots, no cramping before/during/after menses, etc.). My weak spleen energy caused a great deal of cramping prior to and during my period. I was constantly lethargic (when the spleen is weak, fatigue sets in; also, dampness caused by a weak spleen does not move well, so its stagnant energy causes the feeling of not wanting to be active). Being physically tired did not help my mental clarity. Those were my undergraduate years and I had never experienced school to be as challenging as it had been then. The material for any college student requires us to think more, yes, but the task is especially difficult to undertake when one’s mental and physical health are not at optimum levels. The moment my spleen began to “awaken” due to Chinese medicine, reading and memorization became a fond hobby of mine again. My grades began to soar and I was full of energy. From 1994 until this day, I have books everywhere. I take notes everywhere. I can be a student of life without damaging my spleen as long as I continue to strengthen my spleen energy. Making the right decisions about food and giving my mind a break are important to cultivating strong spleen energy. Letting go of personal issues is an important lesson. I know that when I get overly passionate about a certain issue, I will cause myself to have diarrhea. Therefore, I prevent myself from worrying about anything, lest I face the consequences immediately after I eat. That is never any fun.
I have been in love with life since the powers of Chinese medicine came into my life in 1994. I owe the disappearance of IBS in my life due to my lifestyle changes, which includes being a patient of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I used to suffer from either constipation or diarrhea on a weekly, sometimes a daily basis. My confidence was not very high when I was heavier. There is a school of thought in Chinese medicine that if we strengthen the “earth”, everything in our health will improve. I subscribe to this school of thought and hundreds of my patients are living testaments to the theory that if we can metabolize our foods correctly, many other diseases we may be suffering from will no longer manifest.
So back to my teacher’s quote, “Don’t think. If you think, act.” I live by this premise daily. I will think about a particular issue. If I know a change has to be made, I act. If I don’t want to act on it, then I won’t think about the issue.
Think about that.
God speed on allowing you to make and follow through with your decisions!